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Monday, October 23, 2017

Abel reviews Espeland & Sauder's "Engines of Anxiety: Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability."

Prof. Abel's review is in the Journal of Legal Education and can be downloaded here.  A bit:

Student choice of a law school is complicated and facilitated by a combination of ignorance and indifference. Few harbor a passionate desire to be a lawyer. . . .  They do not know what
kind of law they will practice or which schools prepare better for various specializations. . . .  If they have any image of lawyers, it probably is drawn from the media . . . , which depict (inaccurately) a practice few will enter[.]

If few applicants have intrinsic reasons for choosing among law schools (or even for becoming lawyers), they do share a common trait: ambition. They have been socialized from an early age to distinguish themselves through achievement: academic, athletic, cultural, social, political. Most can compare the status of their high school with that of its local competitors. They strove to get into the “best” college—for which they had a metric—and build a resumé there and in the subsequent gap year(s) to get them into the “best” law school.  They have been accumulating cultural capital the way earlier generations accumulated land (in feudal society) and capital (in bourgeois society). All they need is a marker of the best, preferably one that also will distinguish them in the eyes of prospective employers.

The[] changes in legal education and the legal profession since 1970 created an opening, indeed an imperative need, for information to guide aspiring law students in choosing a school. . . .

Posted by Rick Garnett on October 23, 2017 at 02:03 PM in Rick Garnett | Permalink


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